Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has been declared the winner of the Iowa primary, beating out former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum by just eight votes. It was the closest margin in the history of the Iowa Republican caucus. Matt Strawn, the chair of the Republican Party in Iowa, announced the results.
Matt Strawn: “But I can report, with 1,770 precincts reporting, Governor Mitt Romney received 30,015 votes, Senator Rick Santorum received 30,007 votes. Congratulations to Governor Mitt Romney, winner of the 2012 Iowa caucuses. Congratulations to Senator Santorum for a very close second place finish and an excellent race here. And congratulations of Congressman Paul and all the other candidates who competed in the 2012 Iowa caucuses.”
Texas Rep. Ron Paul finished in third place, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in fourth, Texas Governor Rick Perry in fifth, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann in sixth, and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman in seventh. After the results came in, Perry announced he is returning to Texas to reassess his campaign. Perry spent the most out of all the candidates on the Iowa race but received just 10 percent of the vote, resulting in an average of $480 per vote.
As Republicans held their first contest to determine President Obama’s challenger later this year, Obama delivered a speech to a gathering of Iowa Democrats. In his remarks, Obama offered a preview of his re-election campaign theme.
President Obama: “Part of what 2012 is about is both reminding the American people of how far we’ve traveled and the concrete effects that some of our work has had in terms of making sure that people have health insurance, or making sure that our troops are coming home, or making sure that young people are able to go to college. But part of it is also framing this larger debate about what kind of country are we going to leave for our children and our grandchildren. The main message that we’re going to have in 2012 is that we’ve done a lot, but we’ve got a lot more to do, and that’s why we need another four years to get it all done.”
The U.S. is vowing to remain in the Persian Gulf following an Iranian threat to take military action if a U.S. aircraft carrier returns. Last week, Iran threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a key Gulf passageway, over newly enacted U.S. sanctions and filmed a U.S. aircraft carrier leaving the Gulf during Iranian naval exercises. On Tuesday, the head of Iran’s military, Major General Ataollah Salehi, said Iran would respond if the aircraft carrier returns.
Major General Ataollah Salehi: “I think the enemy has got the message. As you saw, once our naval drills began, the enemy’s aircraft carrier left the Strait of Hormuz for the Sea of Oman. We repeat that we do not intend to take any irrational action. But we are ready to counter any threat. We have warned the aircraft carrier, which posed a threat to us, against returning to the Persian Gulf. And we are not going to repeat the warning.”
The White House and Pentagon have dismissed Iran’s claims. In Washington, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Iran is highlighting its own international isolation.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: “I think it reflects the fact that Iran is in a position of weakness. It’s the latest round of Iranian threats, and it’s confirmation that Tehran is under increasing pressure for its continued failures to live up to its international obligations. Iran is isolated and is seeking to divert attention from its behavior and domestic problems. This is simply a measure of the impact that sanctions have been having on Iran and the broad international support for taking—putting pressure on Iran and isolating Iran because of its refusal to live up to its international obligations.”
The Taliban has opened the door to talks with the United States on potentially ending the war in Afghanistan. On Tuesday, the Taliban confirmed it would open a political office in Qatar that could pave the way for negotiations. The Taliban also called for the release of its leaders still imprisoned by the U.S. military at Guantánamo Bay. The statement made no mention of the Afghan government, which the United States has said must take a leading role in any talks for reconciliation. In Washington, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland repeated that stance.
Victoria Nuland, State Department spokesperson: “We are not aware of any formal decision. We’re not aware of any formal announcement. But we are prepared to support a process that the Afghans support and with regard to any office. You know, it would be a question for the host country, the Afghans and the Afghan Taliban to agree on. You don’t negotiate a peace deal at the end of a war with your friends. We’ve seen in many other conflict situations that you have to have a political address if you’re going to begin a political conversation.”
In Ecuador, a court has upheld a ruling ordering the oil giant Chevron to pay $18 billion for polluting Ecuador’s rain forest since the 1970s. Amazonian residents won the judgment last year after a long-running case seeking damages for Chevron’s dumping of billions of gallons of toxic oil waste. The initial ruling called on Chevron to pay $8.6 billion, but then rose to more than double that amount after Chevron failed to apologize. In a statement, Chevron called the new ruling “illegitimate” and “[un]enforceable in any court that observes the rule of law.” Chevron has filed challenges in international and U.S. courts to block the ruling from being enforced. Meanwhile, a group representing the plaintiffs, the Amazon Defense Coalition, said: “The decision is based on overwhelming scientific evidence presented at trial that proved Chevron deliberately dumped billions of gallons of toxic waste that poisoned the water supply of the Amazon rainforest, decimating indigenous groups and causing an outbreak of cancers and other diseases that continue to threaten thousands of innocent lives. Chevron now has an opportunity to show the world…that it respects the laws and courts of other countries.”
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators gathered in the Jordanian capital of Amman on Tuesday in their first official meeting since negotiations broke down over a year ago. The talks have been stalled over Israel’s refusal to abide by a Palestinian demand for a settlement freeze in the West Bank. The meeting ended with a pledge for more preliminary talks.
Washington Governor Chris Gregoire is expected to announce her support today for legislation that would legalize gay marriage. Democrats hold majorities in both chambers of the Washington state legislature and have said they plan to introduce gay-marriage legislation after the new session opens next week. Washington state would become the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage after New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa, as well as the District of Columbia.
State legislators in California are introducing a measure today that would call for a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United, the controversial Supreme Court ruling that endowed corporations with the same First Amendment rights as U.S. citizens and characterizes political spending as free speech, opening the floodgates for unlimited corporate spending on election campaigns. The New York City Council is expected to vote on a similar measure today, following passage in cities including Los Angeles, Oakland, Albany and Boulder. On Friday, Montana’s Supreme Court restored a 100-year-old ban on corporate spending directed at political campaigns or candidates.
Police in New York City say they have detained a suspect who has confessed to arson attacks targeting three homes, a business and an Islamic community center in and around Queens. On Sunday evening, a security camera captured images of a hooded man throwing a Molotov cocktail at a home that houses a small Hindu temple. Another attack occurred at a prominent Islamic community center where roughly 100 people were worshiping. Appearing with the mosque’s imam, New York City Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly denounced the attacks.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly: “Here at Al-Khoei mosque, you can see the damage on the facade out front. Two Molotov cocktails were thrown at this location. Now these events are being investigated as possible hate crimes. Another location was a residence that also was used as a Hindu house of worship. Now, attacks on houses of worship are particularly egregious because simultaneously they endanger lives, but they also assail our religious freedoms.”
Members of a key group responsible for broadcasting Occupy Wall Street actions around the world have been arrested in a New York City Police Department raid. On Tuesday, six people with the Global Revolution live stream were detained at their Brooklyn studio following an eviction notice by police. The six were charged with trespassing, obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest. Global Revolution has covered Occupy Wall Street’s actions and day-to-day activities since the movement began in September.